Edgefest 22 @ FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, TX

Words by Scott, pictures by Duane Clawson
Last Sunday, thousands descended upon FC Dallas Stadium (formerly Pizza Hut Park) for the 22nd installment of 102.1 KDGE's Edgefest.  The premier radio festival in North Texas has seen an array of talent in its 21 previous years including Muse and the Killers in 2008, Phoenix and Limp Bizkit? in 2010, Blink 182 and Goo Goo Dools in 1999 (my first Edgefest), et cetera.  But in past years, the festival has been drowned in alternative rock and nostalgic bands of the 90's, a sad reflection of their outdated playists on the station.  Not the case anymore.  This year, Edgefest returned to fine form with the inclusion of Cake, Garbage, Evanescence, Cage the Elephant, and headliners, the Black Keys.  The Black Keys alone were a draw for most concert goers, as they are headlining almost every major festival this year and have blown up within the last few years to go from underground wonders to full-blown superstars.

The weather was beyond excellent for the day's events, where the only annoyances were sunburns.  As we arrived to FC Dallas Stadium, Duane found himself in front of the main stage photo pit, standing in front of Switchfoot.  After performing a few songs the day before at Good Records for Record Store Day, the San Diego band got the growing crowd going by performing choice cuts in "Meant to Live" and "Dare You to Move."  They also did a pretty good job in covering Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing".  With the short half hour sets, Duane and I moved frequently between the two stages (located at the opposite ends of the stadium).  With a short walk and a few minutes waiting, Dead Sara from LA embraced the smaller, second stage with a fury of guitars and raspy vocals.  The band's sound is straight, raw rock and roll, a clear descendant of the 1970's classic rock.  Vocalist Emily Armstrong is a dominating front woman, as she controls the action onstage and clears a path with her powerful growls and high energy.  With no prior knowledge of the band, Duane and I were quite impressed with their performance, as was most of the crowd.

As the day wore on, the crowds only got bigger and the lines for bathrooms and vendors got longer.  I typically found myself wandering in and out of the pit to find a cozy seat in the stands, a more ideal location for better sound and no unwanted pushing.  The crowd for Civil Twilight was fairly tame, as the boys from South Africa rarely cause a big enough stir to cause that sort of reaction.  Their sound is much more rounded, drawing parallels to the likes of U2 and Radiohead.  I much preferred their sound at Edgefest (fully electric) as opposed to their semi-acoustic performance at Good Records the day before.  As I made my way to the second stage, I made a pit stop before grabbing an overpriced beer.  I found refuge behind the second stage to take in Foxy Shazam.  The eclectic rock band from Cincy, Foxy Shazam, provided a much different tone to Civil Twilight's chill, radio-friendly numbers.  With embellished outfits and a frantic stage presence, I quickly drew comparisons to the Darkness.   Their energy was unsurpassed and they had the crowd going from their opening notes.  Though vocalist Eric Sean Nally had some interesting commentary, the band did put on a quality rock performance for the second stage crowd.

Following Foxy Shazam was Neon Trees at the main stage.  With their catchy, synth-driven rock, the band  was appearing in their third successive Edgefest appearance.  It took little to no time for these rockers from Utah to get the crowd dancing to their commercial hits in "Animal", "1983", and "Everybody Talks".  Not to be outdone, the English duo the Ting Tings continued where Neon Trees left off.  With their brand of indie pop, the combination of Jules de Martino and Katie White showcased their ability to get the crowd moving and singing along to their short list of songs:  "Great DJ", "Shut Up and Let Me Go", and "That's Not My Name."  Before the Ting Tings finished their set, I squeezed my way into the thick of the main stage crowd to find a prime spot for another English band, the Arctic Monkeys.  Though there has been bright spots from the acts up until this point, the Arctic Monkeys really made the crowd come alive.  It felt like they were the first big band to take either stage.  With the crowd at fever pitch, the band stormed through a blistering set that included cuts from all of their releases, most notably "Fluorescent Adolescent", "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", "Brianstorm", and "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair".  This was only my third time catching the Monkeys but I could tell they were feeding off the large crowd.  It was a good time.

Following the Monkeys were local favorites, Blue October.  Hailing from Houston, this quintet has grown a large following in the Dallas area, as they have been on rotation for nearly the past decade.  And this was not the band's first rodeo.  First appearing in 2003's Edgefest, the band was performing in their sixth Edgefest overall.  Their popularity was still apparent with the loud singalong to their song, "Hate Me".  I met up with Duane briefly before the next act to enjoy a few minutes of rest.  And if you were in the pit for the next band, you would receive no rest.  Cage the Elephant took the stage and took control of the crowd in no time at all.  One of the better live bands out there today, Cage's live show is raucous, energetic, and fun.  Vocalist Matthew Shultz leads the group with his off the wall banter and crazy onstage antics.  The crowd really came alive when the band performed cuts "Aberdeen", "Shake Me Down", and "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked"; sadly, no "Back Stabbin' Betty".  Duane walked away with their set and said they remind him of a young Guns 'n' Roses.  Not a bad comparison.  As the sun was falling over the sides of FC Dallas Stadium, Evanesence took the last slot on the second stage before a packed crowd.  I personally didn't watch much of their performance but they sounded great from where I was.  Amy Lee's vocals were right on par and the sound was booming with energy.

As the day was winding down, only three bands remained on the main stage.  The first, Cake, really got the crowd moving with their funky rock sound.  At first, I was a bit skeptical of having Cake perform so late but I soon realized it was the perfect choice.  With as much love the band received, you would have thought they were Texas natives, not from California.  Their catchy hooks and memorable lyrics made it easy for the crowd, and band, to have a great time.  Their fantastic set culminated with their ever-popular song, "The Distance".  I was very impressed.  I soon found myself in the middle of the engulfing pit, trying to find a suitable spot to watch Garbage.  Finally nestled stage right, the band took the stage and began to play their first notes in the DFW area in more than a decade.  Man, they never sounded so good.  With so many great songs in their library, the crowd seemed to know the words to almost their entire set list.  Basking in the bright blue lighting, Shirley Manson and company performed a lively, loud set with a pretty broad selection of their expansive catalog.  Playing just under their allotted 50 minute time, the stage would soon be set for the night's headliners, the Black Keys.

I have to admit, once I saw the Black Keys were headlining, I knew I was coming out to Edgefest this year.  Having missed them a number of times (most recently, opening for Kings of Leon), I made it a priority to catch them the next time they stopped in the DFW area; I was even planning on driving up to Tulsa to catch them.  Luckily, Edgefest saved the best for last.  Walking out to the screams of girls and the yells of guys, the duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, along with a handful of supporting musicians, took the stage and jumped into their hit, "Howlin' For You".  Their energy onstage has made them one of the must-see acts of recent years and after seeing only a few songs, I think they were better than advertised.  Their sound was tight as Carney kept busy behind his drum kit and Auerbach roamed the stage, scratching at his strings while gazing across the audience.  It wasn't until over halfway through the set that the backing musicians left the two alone, and proceeded to play a few cuts solo.  Their was not as 'large' as it was before, but the rocked out with enough force that you really didn't care.  I can't say that the band ever really wound down the night, because they left the stage to "Lonely Boy", only to return and perform the encore "Everlasting Light" and the thunderous "I Got Mine" to a cascade of fireworks.  It was spectacular.  Photos of the show are below:

Dead Sara
Civil Twilight
Foxy Shazam
Neon Trees
The Ting Tings
Arctic Monkeys
Blue October
Cage The Elephant
The Black Keys
Edgefest 22 @ FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, TX Edgefest 22 @ FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on May 02, 2012 Rating: 5
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